A Sacrifice of Praise image

A Sacrifice of Praise

Ever get to Leviticus in your Bible reading and let out a – at least internal – groan? It can feel very hard work: all that stuff about sacrifice and all that stuff about what is clean and what isn’t.

I’ve been leading a group through a study of the Pentateuch as part of a new biblical theology course we have launched: material prepared and presented by Think’s very own Andrew Wilson. (At the moment this is only available to churches that are part of the Advance network but we hope to be able to offer it more widely in time.) In the last session we were looking at the sacrifices described in Leviticus 1-7 and for everyone on the course there came a moment of revelation as we saw that not all sacrifices are about sin. More of them are about worship.

Leviticus describes five types of sacrifice: the sin offering and guilt offering are to do with atonement, purification and compensation for sin. But the burnt offering, grain offering and peace offering are to do with praise, fellowship and ‘a pleasing aroma’. That’s two to three.

This morning I happened to be in Numbers 7 as part of my normal Bible reading schedule. This chapter describes the offerings brought by the tribal leaders at the dedication of the tabernacle. This is a chapter I tend to skip past – it is long and repetitive and all about sacrifice. But looking at it with fresh eyes it is actually rather wonderful.

Look at the sacrifices, and what they were for: Yes, 12 goats were offered as a sin offering. But then 12 silver dishes filled with flour and oil, 12 gold dishes filled with incense, 12 bulls,  72 rams, 72 lambs, 24 oxen and 60 goats were offered as other sacrifices. Sin was recognised and compensated for, but the scale of the offering was massively weighted towards a sacrifice of praise and fellowship. That’s amazing.

When we come before God in worship now we do so recognising our sin and guilt and how it has been dealt with (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 John 2:1-2; 1 John 4:10) but we must also come seeing how Jesus is our burnt offering (Rom. 8:32); our grain offering (2 Cor. 2:14-16); our peace offering (Eph. 2:14).

If even under the old covenant the balance of sacrifice was weighted towards praise and fellowship then how much more under the new covenant are we called to celebrate? Yes, let’s celebrate!

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